Decorations, Medals and Awards
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CSM Jack Kirby being presented a Distinguished Conduct Medal for the Battle of Long Tan

Decorations, Medals and Awards for the Battle of Long Tan

Decorations, mdeals and awards for the Battle of Long Tan were supplemented by the US Presidential Unit Citation for Gallantry to D Company, 6RAR and in 2009, the Australian Government finally conferred the Australian Unit Citation for Gallantry to Delta Company as well.

The list below sets out the original decorations and awards bestowed under the Commonwealth system:

Distinguished Service Order (DSO)

  • Brigadier David Jackson
  • Lieutenant Colonel Colin Townsend

Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)

  • Captain Maurice ‘Morrie’ Stanley (NZ)

Military Cross (MC)

  • Major Harry Smith

Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM)

  • Warrant Officer 2 Jack Kirby
  • Corporal J. Carter

Military Medal (MM)

  • Sergeant Bob Buick
  • Private Ron Eglington

Mentioned in Dispatches (MID)

  • Lieutenant Adrian Roberts
  • Second Lieutenant Geoff Kendall
  • Second Lieutenant Dave Sabben
  • Warrant Officer 2 Jack Roughley
  • Corporal Phil Dobson
  • Corporal W.R. Moore
  • Private Bill Akell


Here is film of the then Major Harry Smith Officer, Commanding Delta Company, 6RAR receiving his Military Cross for leadership and command during the Battle of Long Tan at a ceremony on Luscombe Field at the Nui Dat task force base on 17 January 1967:


Here is film of Australian Prime Minister Mr John Gorton presenting the United States Presidential Unit Citation to D Company, 6RAR for Extraordinary Gallantry at the Battle of Long Tan in Townsville on 18 August 1968.


This Presidential Unit Citation, the highest US award, was presented to Delta Company 6RAR at a parade in Townsville on 18 August 1968, two years after the Battle of Long Tan. The Australian Prime Minister, Mr John Gorton pinned the citation ribbon to 6RAR’s regimental colours and congratulated D Company on its award. Present at the ceremony were the Minister for the Army, Mr Phillip Lynch, his wife, and the new American Ambassador to Australia, Mr William Crook with Mrs Crook. Also present were members of D company including Major Harry Smith, MC of NSW and Sergeant Bob Buick, MM, of WA.

This is the U.S. Presidential Unit Citation awarded to D Coy, 6RAR [click image for larger version]:

US Presidential Unit Citation Long Tan


Long Fight for Justice

For the past 15 years, Lt Col Harry Smith SG MC (retired) former Officer Commanding Delta Company, 6RAR has fought for the proper recognition of his men who fought and died in the Battle of Long Tan as well as those who supported them back at Nui Dat. Harry finally convinced former Prime Minister John Howard at a private meeting in Canberra on 17 August 2006, that the government should review the decorations, medals and awards for the Battle of Long Tan to redress the injustices.

Due to the overwhelming surprise of such a major engagement in Phuoc Tuy Province in August 1966, and importantly the tragedy and shock of 18 young Australians being killed in the battle, Australian military officials gave Major Harry Smith (rank at time) less than 24 hours to solicit, write and submit citations for decorations and awards for the battle. During the process of submitting the citations his superior officer’s 1ATF Commander Brigadier David Jackson and Commanding Officer 6RAR, Lt Col Colin Townsend refused to accept a Victoria Cross citation for CSM Jack Kirby. After Harry’s and his commanding officer’s citations were submitted, which included a DSO (Distinguished Service Order) for Major Harry Smith, civilian Department of Defence officials downgraded some of the recommended awards and some other citation applications simply went missing.

Most Decorations and Awards Upgraded

On 12 October 2007 the Australian government appointed an independent panel to review the treatment of award recommendations stemming from the Battle of Long Tan, on 18 August 1966.  On 17 October 2007 a reference was added to review the service recognition of RAAF personnel posted to Royal Thai Air Force Base Ubon (RAAF Ubon) between 1965 and 1968.  The terms of reference for the review were confirmed by the Cabinet Secretary and Special Minister of State, Senator the Hon John Faulkner, on behalf of the Prime Minister, on 3 February 2008.

The panel was directed to have regard to the Imperial gallantry awards recommended at the time of the Battle of Long Tan as well as claims for the award of the South Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry Unit Citation.  The panel was also directed to consider the merits of the claim for further service medal recognition for RAAF Ubon by way of the Vietnam Logistic and Support Medal.

In 2008, the Australian Government accepted the recommendations of this panel to award Lt Col Harry Smith MC (retired) Australia’s Star of Gallantry, second only to the Victoria Cross. The star was previously known as the Distinguished Service Order, and although Harry Smith was originally recommended for the honour for extraordinary bravery, his superiors downgraded it to a Military Cross.

Two Delta Company platoon commanders from that long-ago afternoon, Second Lieutenant Dave Sabben (12 Platoon) and Second Lieutenant Geoff Kendall (10 Platoon), were awarded the Medal for Gallantry, equivalent to the Military Cross they were supposed to have received four decades ago.

It was also the intention of the South Vietnamese Government to also award the Gallantry Cross with Palm Unit Citation (CGCP) to Delta Company in 1966 for the Battle of Long Tan but this was not approved at the time by the Australian Government. However, the 2008 Australian Panel finally recommended approval for Delta Company to wear this honour. The government accepted and approved the panel’s recommendation.

In October 2009, the Australian Government accepted more Tribunal recommendations for the Battle of Long Tan:

  • Flight Lieutenant Cliff Dohle be awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the contemporary equivalent award to the Distinguished Flying Cross, the original award for which he was properly recommended in 1966 by all levels of Australian command in Vietnam.
  • Delta Company, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, be awarded the Unit Citation for Gallantry for its performance at the Battle of Long Tan in August 1966.

The Last Battle for Recognition

In April 2015, Lieutenant Colonel Harry Smith SG MC (Retd) (former Officer Commanding D Company 6th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (6 RAR) at the Battle of Long Tan in Vietnam on 18 August 1966) applied to the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal (the Tribunal) for review of a decision by the Chief of Army to refuse to recommend 13 members of the Australian Army who fought at the Battle of Long Tan for a range of gallantry awards, including a Victoria Cross for the late Delta Company 6RAR CSM, Warrant Officer John ‘Jack’ Kirby DCM. Here are details of the last awards Harry is fighting for.

The Final Chapter

On 10 August 2016, the Australian Minister for Veterans Affairs Dan Tehan announced that it had accepted the recommendations of the independent tribunal into Battle of Long Tan awards that 10 soldiers who fought in the Battle of Long Tan be awarded a military honour or have their existing honour upgraded.

Mr Tehan today said he would recommend to the Governor-General that each recommendation from the independent Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal’s review into the actions of 13 individual soldiers during the battle be approved.

The Tribunal recommended Medals of Gallantry for Lieutenant Adrian Roberts, Sergeant Frank Alcorta and Lance Corporal Barry Magnussen (deceased) and Commendations for Gallantry for Second Lieutenant Gordon Sharp (deceased), and Privates Neil Bextrum, Ron Brett (deceased), Ian Campbell, William Roche, Geoffrey Peters and Noel Grimes.

The Tribunal did not recommend a Victoria Cross for the late Warrant Officer Class 2 Jack Kirby (deceased).

The Tribunal found the Distinguished Conduct Medal awarded to WO2 Kirby in 1966 was, “the appropriate award to recognise [his] distinguished conduct and leadership in the field during the Battle.”

For Corporal William Moore (deceased) and Private Allen May, the Tribunal recommended the Chief of Army’s original decision to not award an honour be affirmed.

Mr Tehan paid tribute to Lieutenant Colonel Harry Smith (Retd) who was commanding officer of D Company 6RAR on the day and who made the application for the review in 2015.

Full reports can be found here.

Summary of recommendations

Recipient Birthplace
and DOB
What had
been awarded for service at Long Tan
DHAAT Review recommendation
Sergeant Francis Xavier ALCORTA OAM Born in the Basque region of Spain in 1936 Nil That Sergeant Alcorta be recommended for the Medal of Gallantry
Private Neil Raymond BEXTRUM Born in Carlton, Victoria on 21 May, 1945 Nil That Private Bextrum be recommended for the Commendation for Gallantry
Private Ronald Howard BRETT (deceased) Born in Gulargambone, New South Wales on 15 February, 1947 Nil That Private Brett be recommended for the Commendation for Gallantry
Private Ian Martin CAMPBELL Born in Brisbane on 9 June, 1945 Nil That Private Campbell be recommended for the Commendation for Gallantry
Private Noel John GRIMES Born in Brisbane 4 February, 1945 Nil That Private Grimes be recommended for the Commendation for Gallantry
Warrant Officer Class 2 John William KIRBY DCM (deceased) Born in Sydney on 11 February, 1935 Distinguished Conduct Medal That the Chief of Army’s decision be affirmed
Lance Corporal Barry Eugene MAGNUSSEN (deceased) Born in Brisbane on 15 May, 1945 Nil That Lance Corporal Magnussen be recommended of the Medal of Gallantry
Private Allen James MAY Born in Home Hill, Queensland on 26 March, 1945 Nil That the Chief of Army’s decision be affirmed
Corporal William Richard MOORE (deceased) Born in St George, Queensland on 2 June, 1941 Mention in Despatches That the Chief of Army’s decision be affirmed
Private Geoffrey Michael PETERS Born in Sydney on 25 June, 1946 Nil That Private Peters be recommended for the Commendation for Gallantry
Colonel Francis Adrian ROBERTS OAM Born in Midland Junction, Western Australia on 11 October, 1939 Mention in Despatches That Colonel Roberts return his Mention in Dispatches and be recommended for the Medal of Gallantry
Private Willian Alfred ROCHE Born in Nerrandera, New South Wales on 5 May, 1941 Nil That Private Roche be recommended for the Commendation for Gallantry
Second Lieutenant Gordon Cameron SHARP (deceased) Born in Tamworth, New South Wales on 17 March, 1945 Nil That Second Lieutenant Sharp be recommended for the Commendation for Gallantry



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